Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Everyone's a Critic (Bella's Excellent NY Adventure, Part 5)

The NBCC Awards on March 8 were covered in great detail at Critical Mass and GalleyCat, so I won't go over them here. EXCEPT that I found Mary Gordon's introduction to Lifetime Achievement Award-winner John Leonard waaaay too long. And I was thrilled when the only book I'd read of the 30 nominated, THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS by Kiran Desai, won the fiction prize. Read it! It's wonderful.

No matter how crazy you are about the person you're extolling to an adoring audience, your speech shouldn't be longer than the honoree's. Which Gordon's definitely was. Much longer. Leonard's gracious acceptance, however, was a complete delight. So was that of Excellence in Criticism Award-winner Steve Kallman, which was shorter and thus perhaps sweeter. My only quibble is that Kellman's glowing red visage belied his description of book critics' "pallid faces." (He explained to me later that he lives in Austin, hence he's sunburned.)

A couple hundred people went to the NBCC's post-awards reception. The New School has a terrific auditorium, but the reception room--in another building connected by an atrium-- is a big, bare box with concrete floors, served by a single, slow elevator. Once again, I gave up on the elevator and joined the herd of people huffing and puffing up four lengthy flights of stairs. And once again, I missed the thickly carpeted and graciously FURNISHED (with actual chairs to sit on!) ground-floor reception room at NYU Law School, conveniently just across a wide hall from the auditorium.

However, I stood and schmoozed with the best of them, and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Along with several business cards, I gleaned a restaurant recommendation, so a friend and I ended up the evening with a fabu--and reasonably priced!--dinner at nearby Cafe Asean.

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